A project of exploration in pop culture, Portland-bred band Reptaliens created dreamscapes inspired by sci-fi art and cult mentality. They consider themselves somewhere between abstract expressionism and surrealism, both sonically and visually. They got real with our writer Emily Blake about their history, their sound, and their hopes.
Can you give me a little bit of background about the band? How did you get together, what’s the story behind the name?
Cole: Bambi and I wrote and recorded a song (which later ended up being “Forced Entry”) just for fun one day. We put the song up on soundcloud and people really responded to it so we decided to write more and get a live band together. Julian Kowalski’s been in the live band since the first show and Tyler Verigin joined about half a year in when Cole decided to switch from drums to playing synths.
What were the intentions in starting the band?
Cole: I think we originally started the band just to write and record music together. I had no intentions of signing with a record label or playing outside of our hometown of Portland, OR. We were just having fun and not taking it too seriously when – well – one thing led to another.
How has your sound developed since you formed?
Cole: On our first album “FM-2030” we were just writing and recording whatever came out. There’s a lot of different styles, moods, and genre types on that record because we were still just playing around and seeing what worked. With our new material, that we’re writing now, there’s a much more cohesive and defined sound that we’re going for.
Is there a musician/concept that always provides you with ideas, inspiration or motivation?
Cole: As far as musical influences for the live show, I’m really inspired by bands that have a fun and unique live show – bands like Of Montreal or STRFKR. For influences on our approach to recording, I am constantly inspired by the lo-fi but beautifully produced home recording styles of Ariel Pink and Chris Cohen.
How do you go about starting a new project?
Cole: Starting a new project is super hard. You just gotta find the right people that you love playing with and being around. Don’t try and corner yourself into a genre or style, just see where it goes and be positive towards the result whether it’s what you intended or not.
I was looking through your Instagram and I found myself really gravitating towards the overall laid back eccentric vibe. How do aesthetics affect you as a band? Is it something you prioritize or does it just come authentically? It seems like your live shows, especially, have a lot of different moving pieces.
Cole: There are a lot of recurring aesthetics, themes, and concepts in both our live show and the music. They aren’t so much prioritized as just a product of us wanting to do something and then acting on that. When we decide on a character or costume, we take it seriously, but a lot of it is silly or tongue-in-cheek. We just like to do whatever seems fun.
Do you have a favorite live show you ever played?
Cole: One of my favorite shows was playing with Foxygen at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland. We had some actors in inflatable T-Rex costumes on stage and dancing in the audience. It was pandemonium.
If you could collaborate with any musician (dead or alive) who would it be?
Cole: I would collaborate with Brian Eno, but only if we were going off of his oblique strategies.
What do you guys do in your free time?
Cole: Watch a lot of movies, eat a lot of food. Y’know, the usual. Hang out with our dog.
What are you guys working on right now? Anything you’re especially looking forward to?
Cole: We’re constantly planning tours, and we’ve got some big announcements coming up soon! We’re also starting to write demos for the second LP and we’re going to start playing some of those live so that’s super exciting.